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Springdale School earns historic listing

Community can now apply for grants to do needed repairs
by: File photo The old Springdale School, 32405 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, giving it new life.

The Springdale School was recently approved to join the National Register of Historic Places, assuring the nearly 80-year-old school's historic preservation and giving it a chance for continued use.

Corbett School District officials and community members hope that the listing - which makes the school eligible for federal, state and private grants that benefit historic properties - will help with efforts to refurbish and reopen the school, which held its last class in 1996.

Corbett School District Superintendent Randy Trani outlined ideas for the Springdale School's future use on the district website (available at bit.ly/onodVO) such as providing space for an arts and drama program.

Charlie O'Neil, Corbett School Board member, said the building could provide a lot of flexibility for housing students. He said the next steps are to work on county land-use applications and to send out a request for proposals from architectural firms.

The pink, single-story Art Deco school building, built in 1931 by Springdale-area residents, contains an auditorium and six classrooms, with additional space that could also be converted into classrooms.

After it stopped functioning as a school in 1996, the building provided space for several organizations, including the Boy Scouts, a historical society, a ladies tea group and a children's theater.

However, the school district had to vacate the building in December 2010 because it did not meet Multnomah County building codes, mostly related to safety issues.

The building now provides limited storage for school supplies. Volunteers with the nonprofit Springdale School Community Association help maintain the school grounds.

Consultants have estimated that it could cost around $1.6 million to refurbish the school and to bring it up to code. All work would have to follow national standards for the treatment of historic properties.

The Corbett School District board in October approved a proposal to take out a $1 million Qualified School Construction Bond loan, which has zero-percent interest and a 17-year payback period. The loan, part of a federal stimulus package, would save the district close to $300,00 in interest.

The school district hired Public Affairs Research Consultants (PARC), an Oregon-based grant-writing firm, to assist in the capital funding campaign for the additional money.

Springdale resident Gary Law, a board member and former president of the Springdale School Community Association, said the association would continue to work with the district in finding grants for the school. One possibility is a $20,000 grant offered by Oregon's State Historic Preservation Office, he said.

Law said the school could again be available as a community center, and several local organizations have expressed interest in using the building after school hours and on weekends. Their official letters of support for the school will also help when the school district applies for grants, he said.

Law, who was the third generation of his family to attend the school, said the listing is good news for the community, in which the school serves as a visual landmark for passers-by on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

'It's a historic building, and it looks like it will be saved, giving the community some identification,' Law said. 'The local people who worked on the building are going to have their work saved.'

The Springdale School is now one of the more than 1,900 historic properties in Oregon that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other East County properties on the register include McMenamins Edgefield, Vista House, Multnomah Falls Lodge, Gresham Carnegie Library and the View Point Inn.